Saturday, July 9, 2016

Wales, new friends and a swim

Two weeks ago I made my way up north to Wales to meet new friends and get some real fishing done. It was a fun, long & exhausting weekend and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.

Day 1, Friday
After a 4h drive I arrived at a stretch of the River Dee, below Bala Reservoir, called Llandderfel. I was taken aback of the wild beauty of the country and setting, a river tumbling and meandering through a valley dotted with farms and sheep watching you fish. I struggled getting the hang of things, being spoiled having fished the fast tumbling and nutrient poor creeks in the Rocky Mountains where trout are eager and aggressive. I had to take a step back, evaluate my approach, presentation and fly choice as I would have back when I started fly fishing back in Switzerland, Austria and then the Catskills in NY State. Things wouldn't be as easy here! After a lot of trial and error I was able to land my first fish, a native brown trout, although not quite the size I was expecting!

Day 2, Saturday
The reason why I made my way up to northern Wales was to participate in the Welsh Tenkara Social Day, organized by Louis and hosted by the very friendly Ceiriog Fly Fishing Club. Maybe 10 of us met early in the morning, introduced each other and then split up in groups of 2 and 3 to fish different stretches of this small freestone river. Even though this river looked very much like some of the Front Range creeks, I struggled at first finding the right technique. Again, taking a step back and observing the river, insects and fish I was able to key into my approach that let me land more than a dozen fish. That being said, not until talking to and observing my new friend Simon who fishes this river frequently, it made click and I started connecting with the bigger fish in the river. After a full day, we all met at a pub for "lunch" at 5pm, had some drink and grub, exchanged stories and contact information and then went our separate ways.

Simon fighting a nice brown with some shoulders!


Day 3, Sunday
On Sunday I went back to the River Dee to a different stretch a few miles further downstream from where I fished on Friday, just outside of a little town called Llangollen. The river here had a different character - where on Friday it was more of a meandering river through meadows here it has carved its way through some rock, creating runs, riffles and deep runs and pools. While during the first two days the weather was nice and held up, it was overcast and started drizzling and then raining in the early afternoon and I observed some unbelievable insect activity on the river. This, however, did not translate in any fish rising to the surface and all fish I caught were subsurface takers. In a beautiful run I hooked into a massive grayling that unfortunately got off as I was about to net her. After fishing through the rain I felt around 5pm that it would be time to pack up and fished a spot here and there on my way back downstream to the car. In the last spot I was very clumsy, tripped, slipped and then fell on my back into the river, submerging my entire upper body in some pretty cold water. I felt my waders starting to fill up while I was struggling to regain control floating downstream, head first on my back. What felt like an eternity (and I am sure was probably just a few seconds) I was able to turn and crawl out of the river, wet, cold and embarrassed. Thankfully there was nobody there who saw what happened! Unfortunately I broke my TenkaraUSA Sato's section 4 in half but that was remedied within a few days after the John and TJ at TenkaraUSA were able to send me a replacement section.

Day 4, Monday
Simon, one of my new friends of Saturday was very gracious to host me for another few hours as his personal guest on the River Ceiriog, showing me some nice runs and pools where I was able to hook up with the biggest fish of the weekend which also unfortunately got off before netting. That being said I was still able to get some really nice fish to hand before we called it a day around noon, allowing me to drive back home in time to spend some time with daughter before her bedtime.

I can't wait to head out again, hopefully soon!

Simon showing how it's done